Daily Archives: May 22, 2012

Review Island Practice: Cobblestone Rash, Underground Tom, and Other Adventures of a Nantucket Doctor

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“If you need an appendectomy, he can do it with a stone scalpel he carved himself. If you have a condition nobody can diagnose—“creeping eruption” perhaps—he can identify what it is, and treat it. A baby with toe-tourniquet syndrome, a human leg that’s washed ashore, a horse with Lyme disease, a narcoleptic falling face-first in the street, a hermit living underground—hardly anything is off-limits for Dr. Timothy J. Lepore. This is the spirited, true story of a colorful, contrarian doctor on the world-famous island of Nantucket.”  — netgalley

Island Practice by Pam Belluck is a nicely drawn biography of the infamous Dr. Lepore, the landmark doctor on Nantucket. Belluck writes with an overall sense of admiration for the doctor, even while describing some of his most controversial tactics. She makes it clear that the islanders feel this same admiration. The reader, however, might not. Dr. Lepore may make house calls and deliver emergency C-Sections, but he also allows islanders to live in underground caves and have sex with animals. Whether you like him or not, however, Dr. Lepore is an engaging and eccentric character, and one well worthy of a biography.

Belluck has certainly done her homework. Her interviews with key figures are short and to the point, and perfectly placed. She does a great job recounting each one of the sometimes strange, sometimes heroic situations the doctor finds himself in. Her readers are sure to come away with an entirely different image of Nantucket. In fact, it’s almost impossible to recognize the Nantucket of the uber-wealthy summer goers inside these pages.

Island Practice is part survival guide, part snap shot of one of the most beautiful and unique places in America. I chose to review this book because my father was raised on Nantucket and my grandmother lived on the island until her dying day. An uncle and cousin still reside year-round and I imagine remain ever grateful for Dr. Lepore.

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The Fault In Our Stars

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If you’ve ever read Eckart Tolle’s book, A New Earth, you may better understand why I’m about to compare it to John Green’s magnificent The Fault in Our Stars. The idea behind Tolle’s spiritual self-help book is that who you are, right now, is good enough for the Universe. And if there’s not enough religion in that statement for you, “Universe” can be exchanged for whatever religious figure you choose. The point is: while we may all want a little (or a lot) of fame and fortune, the Universe doesn’t much care. In fact, the only thing the Universe requires of you is to accept the present moment as it is.

Enter Hazel.

Hazel, the protagonist with stage IV thyroid cancer in Green’s latest book, embodies this principal. Brutally aware that she has limited time, the only thing Hazel really wants at this point is not to break her parent’s hearts.

But things change when she meets Augustus.

Augustus, a cancer patient as well, wants more than to accept the present moment as it is. He wants to leave a legacy. And why shouldn’t he want that? The average person would. Hazel, however, is far from average.

Green’s writing is pitch perfect. His lightning quick dialogue is simply fun to read. But the best part of the novel is Hazel, who is not just sweet and down-to-earth and protective, she does what most of us can’t: she dares to be unimportant. Perhaps that’s the definition of a true hero.